Ben Simmons could be traded by the Philadelphia 76ers before the end of the 2021-22 season. However, he might not be dealt until later, according to recent reports. It all means there still isn't clarity regarding the point guard's future, which has been an ongoing storyline since last season's playoffs.
Rumors continue to swirl regarding Simmons' status, with The Athletic's Sam Amick recently writing that the 76ers have a list of "approximately 30 players" they would be interested in acquiring in exchange for Simmons, and they believe five to 10 of them could become available "in the next year or two."
And it seems Philadelphia may be OK with waiting to part with Simmons. Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice reported that the 76ers will be fine dragging out this situation until after the 2021-22 season so that they can wait for a "new set of opportunities" in terms of potential trades that could be made.
"That could take shape in the form of sign-and-trade possibilities, disgruntled stars finally asking out of their own problematic situations or new management hires for other franchises wanting to take big swings on talent like Simmons," Neubeck wrote.
So whom might the 76ers be looking to target on the trade market when that time arrives?
Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the team is "keen on the idea" of keeping Simmons for now and then trying to land James Harden in a sign-and-trade deal with the Brooklyn Nets. That would be a huge move considering Harden is a one-time NBA MVP and among the top scorers in the league.
The landscape of the Eastern Conference would look much different if Simmons went to Brooklyn in exchange for Harden in the summer.
It's also possible the 76ers could look for a trade before then. Pompey reported that they have "engaged in ongoing discussions" with the Detroit Pistons about a potential deal in which they would acquire Jerami Grant, another forward, a young player and a draft pick in return for Simmons.
Who else could the Pistons package with Grant in order to land Simmons?
"One source said power forward/center Kelly Olynyk and second-year swingman Saddiq Bey were mentioned as players who could be included in a possible deal," Pompey wrote. "However, a source said the Pistons are unlikely to include Bey, a Villanova product, or Olynyk."
The 76ers got off to a strong start this season, winning eight of their first 10 games. However, they are 9-8 after losing six of their past seven contests. And all of that has happened without Simmons, who has not played a game since last season's playoffs.
With so much trade buzz, it seems like Simmons will never again suit up for the 76ers. But these situations can change at any moment. Either way, it could take a while before there's any resolution.